Last Chance for a Cure

Last Chance for a Cure

Up to 8 months of isolation await a young boy suffering from “bubble boy” disease.Reporter: Chris Woodard
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POSTED: Friday, February 26, 2010 — 6:15 p.m.

Tonight 10-year-old Joshua Osborn is about to go through something many of us could never imagine.

Eight months of isolation, closed into the same room, at the same hospital await him.

His parents hope it can bring an end to his 10-year struggle with a rare disease.

After years of waiting and hoping the Osborn’s are getting their shot.

Since birth life has been a little different for Osborn.

His mother Julie says, “You think you’re coming home from the hospital with a healthy baby boy and to find out something different was a shock.”

Joshua was born without an immune system. He suffers from Severe Combined Immune Deficiency, or SCID-ADA, a one in a million disease.

Julie says, “Did I want to go down this road? Not necessarily. But when I put it in perspective of what other families deal with I do feel blessed that it hasn’t been worse.”

SCID is more commonly known as bubble boy disease, named after David Vetter a boy from Texas who spent all but the last few days of his 12 year life in a germ free bubble while doctors looked for a cure.

Things have changed a lot since then.

Joshua’s dad Clark says, “We’ve always probably been a little more cautious than the average parent but not a lot.”

Julie says, “Almost everybody that asks me says does he live in a bubble. If they don’t know him they still wonder.”

Now 10-years-old Joshua has been through a lot, including a failed bone marrow transplant and a week in intensive care at 3-years-old that almost ended his life.

Clark says, “No contest that was definitely the hardest time with him.”

Since then he’s had regular trips to Duke Children’s Hospital in North Carolina, monthly IVs and weekly shots in his legs all to basically give him a temporary immune system.

Joshua says, “It’s sort of painful.”

But for this little fighter there is new hope.

Julie says, “It was a relief to know we were going but it’s going to be a busy week to get it all done.”

Earlier this week Joshua’s parents got word he’ll be the 7th child selected to participate in a new gene therapy trial at Duke Medical Center.

The family will relocate to the hospital where Joshua will be forced to isolate himself in a hospital room for anywhere between 3 and 8 months. They leave Sunday.

Clark says, “It was an intimidating thought… with him not being able to leave that room.”

Julie says, “To know that he could possibly be completely healed and not have to have medicines anymore, it’s worth it.”

The most simplified explanation is that his own marrow is taken out, the defect with the immune system is fixed and they put it back in.

Josh says, “I know it’s not going to be dangerous but there are risks I heard. I’m not really afraid of that.”

For mom and dad it means picking up and leaving all while Julie is pregnant again.

They’re expecting a son who they just found out will be born with the same disease.

Clark says, ” When I told him that his brother was going to have the same condition he did, he just smiled and said, well I’m OK. I’m fine.”

Julie says, “I think god gives us what we can handle and there is purpose.”

It’s a life filled with question that may finally have an answer, but it will take a few months of isolation to find out.

Joshua says, ” I’m not really afraid of that no.”

If you want to follow along on Josh’s journey his dad has created a web page that Josh himself will be updating as often as he can.

To check it out just head to

Clark says the best thing that’s come out of Josh’s sickness is newborn testing.

In January of 2008 Wisconsin became the first state to begin testing newborns for the disease which Clark says increases the survival rate from 50 -percent to close to 100-percent.

The Osborns were very active in lobbying for that testing and still hope all states will jump on board.

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